Residents not Worried that Jerusalem Lacks Bomb Shelters

Survey shows older neighborhoods of Jerusalem haven’t enough bomb shelters, but the residents are nonchalant.


Jerusalem does not have enough public bomb shelters in older neighborhoods, but that doesn’t really bother residents of those neighborhoods, The Jerusalem Post found on Tuesday during an informal survey judging the city’s readiness for emergency situations.

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Israelis sit in a bomb shelter – Photo: Amir Cohen / Reuters

According to a municipality spokeswoman, there are approximately 200 public bomb shelters concentrated in the city center and south of the city. Newer neighborhoods, including Ramot, Gilo, Pisgat Zeev, and Ramat Eshkol, are better prepared because later zoning laws required contractors to build bomb shelters within new buildings. Even newer buildings now require steel-reinforced “safe rooms” in each apartment.

City Councilor Elisha Peleg (Likud), who holds the Security, Emergency Services, and Fire and Rescue portfolio, said there are not enough bomb shelters for Jerusalem residents and many of the bomb shelters need to be renovated and improved. He compared it to the fact that there are also not enough gas masks for all Israelis due to budget shortfalls.

“There are shelters and areas that aren’t in good shape,” he said. “It’s about the order of preferences and budget and the amount of money we have for development in the security division.” But he noted that the Council for a Beautiful Israel recently awarded the municipality four stars for the maintenance of public bomb shelters.

All public bomb shelters that are not in use as synagogues or community centers are locked to prevent misuse, including residents who use them as storage areas or local teenagers who use them to abuse drugs and alcohol. Peleg said in the event of an emergency, municipality workers who are responsible for the maintenance of the bomb shelters will make rounds of the city to unlock all of the bomb shelters. This process could take a number of hours.

Despite the negatives, residents of the older neighborhoods were nonchalant. “In Jerusalem, there will never be a war,” said Vitaly Ustinor, a 22-year resident of Nahlahot, as he took a cigarette break next to a locked bomb shelter. “There are Muslim holy sites. Who would shoot missiles here?” Ustinor said that in the unlikely event of war, he expected it to be like the Scud missiles of the 90s, which fell mainly in the Tel Aviv area.

Five-year Nahlahot resident Hillel Cohen was like most residents, who didn’t even know where the closest bomb shelter is located near his apartment. “I’ve never been inside and I’m not even sure where it is,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me that there may not be enough [bomb shelters], I’m not worried, I trust in God.”


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